Did you know that October 28 is Make A Difference Day?

In case you didn’t know, Make A Difference Day is the largest national day of community service. In recognition of the special day, Cape Hatteras National Seashore (Seashore) will be hosting a volunteer event Saturday, October 28, 2017. The Seashore is looking for volunteers to plant sea oats for dune restoration along Ramp 4. The drop-in event starts at 9 am and will continue throughout the day until the work is finished, or until 4 pm, whichever comes first. Meet park staff at Ramp 4.

Please park across the highway from Ramp 4 at the public boat ramp parking lot behind the Oregon Inlet Fishing Center. NC Highway 12 is a busy route with no pedestrian crosswalk. Use caution while crossing the highway.

[Info via NPS press release]

National Parks of Eastern North Carolina starting to return to normal operations after Hurricane Maria

SEPTEMBER 28, 2017

The National Parks of Eastern North Carolina will begin returning to normal operations this morning. Four out of the five parks received direct impacts from Hurricane Maria this week.

Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area

  • Facilities north of Oregon Inlet will reopen this morning at 9:00 am. This includes Oregon Inlet Campground and the Bodie Island Visitor Center/Off-Road Vehicle Permit Office. Bodie Island Lighthouse climbs will be available, weather permitting.
  • Facilities south of Oregon Inlet will begin to reopen to local residents this morning. The facilities will be available to non-residents once Dare and Hyde Counties lift their non-resident evacuation orders for Hatteras and Ocracoke Islands.
  • Beach access ramps will begin to reopen this morning. Updated ramp openings will be posted to the park’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/capehatterasns.

Cape Lookout National Seashore

  • Harkers Island Visitor Center will open this morning at 9:00 am.
  • Park islands and facilities will reopen tomorrow morning at 8:00 am.

Fort Raleigh National Historic Site

  • Park visitor services and facilities will reopen this morning at 9:00 am.
  • Park trails will reopen after safety assessments are conducted.

Moores Creek National Battlefield

  • The park did not receive direct impacts, so normal park operations continues.

Wright Brothers National Memorial

  • Park visitor services and facilities will reopen this morning at 9:00 am.
  • The park is preparing for a special light art event this Sunday from 5:00-10:00 pm. The public is invited to attend at no cost. [Press Release]

Search is Underway for Missing Swimmer off Cape Hatteras National Seashore Beach

According to a Cape Hatteras National Seashore press release, at 6:24 pm on Saturday, September 9, a teenage male swimmer from out-of-state was reported missing off a Cape Hatteras National Seashore beach. The swimmer was last seen north of the jetties in Buxton, North Carolina.

The U.S. Coast Guard, Dare County Sheriff’s Office, Hatteras Island Rescue Squad, National Park Service, and Dare County EMS all responded and a search of the area was conducted using a helicopter and spotlights last night. Additional searches are being conducted today.

Trip Planning is Key to Safe Outer Banks Beach Visits

Sadly, over the last year and a half, there have been numerous swimming-related fatalities along the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Critical trip planning prior to arriving at the beach may help to avoid future fatalities related to rip currents.

Between last summer and this summer, rip current safety messaging has been a huge topic of conversation at local, state, and federal levels. Daily rip current threats are broadcast all over Facebook and Twitter, and rip current safety warning signs have been placed at locations near beaches. There are even mobile rip current safety warnings displayed along NC-12 within Cape Hatteras National Seashore. The warnings and signs apply to everyone planning a trip to Outer Banks oceanside beaches. Yes, they apply to people on vacation, too. It is disappointing to find out that after making it through some rainy vacation days there may still be sunny days that aren’t safe for ocean enjoyment, but entirely heartbreaking to not plan your visit to the beach properly and lose a loved one as a result of strong rip currents.

The dangers of rip currents are nothing new. Back in the 60s, for example, rip currents were just as large of a threat to ocean enjoyment. I recently learned that in the mid-60s, a large group of boy scouts found themselves caught in rip currents and it took three lifeguards, three separate trips to bring them all back to shore safely. The big difference between now and the 60s is clearly the amount of easily accessible information for trip planning. A couple important sites to use  when planning your trip to the beach are:

In case you are planning your trip to an Outer Banks oceanside beach today, please take a look at the following warning.

Rip current risks and preparedness actions for August 27, 2017

PLEASE, do some trip planning before going to the beach. If you, or your loved ones, plan on going into the ocean, all the information you gather prior to your visit may save your lives.

Coast Guard rescues kayaker in Oregon Inlet

According to a U.S. Coast Guard 5th District Mid-Atlantic press release, a kayaker was rescued in Oregon Inlet between Bodie and Hatteras Islands in North Carolina.

Watchstanders at the Sector North Carolina Command Center in Wilmington received a 911 call around 5:30 pm stating an adult male overturned his kayak and was in distress approximately 300 yards off Oregon Inlet Campground.

A 29-foot Response Boat-Small crew was launched from Coast Guard Station Oregon Inlet at 6:00 pm. The crew arrived on scene and rescued the kayaker from the water. He was then transported to a waiting EMS team back at Station Oregon Inlet.

The man was using a 10-foot, sit-on-top, single, red and orange kayak, which was still adrift as of 9:44 pm on July 1st.

Petty Officer 1st Class Jared Stanton said, “this man made the critical decision to wear a life jacket while kayaking in the ocean. That decision may have saved his life this evening.”

Be Careful Attempting to Access New Sandbar Off Cape Point in Buxton, North Carolina

According to a National Park Service press release, over the last two to three months, a large sandbar has formed off Cape Hatteras National Seashore (Seashore) in the Cape Point area. Due to the number of recent water rescues the Hatteras Island Rescue Squad has made between the tip of Cape Point and the sandbar, the National Park Service and Dare County are urging all park visitors to use caution when attempting to access the offshore sandbar.

The Cape Point area is a highly dynamic location that is constantly changing through both erosion and accretion of sand. Currents between Cape Point and offshore sandbars can be very strong; therefore, the Seashore does not recommend that visitors swim or wade to these areas. The life guarded beaches at Coquina Beach, Hatteras Lighthouse Beach, and the Ocracoke Day Use Area Beach are excellent choices for swimming, especially when conditions bring dangerous rip currents to the area.

If interested in accessing the new sandbar, Seashore Superintendent David Hallac states that, “traveling to the sandbar is best accomplished by experienced kayakers or paddle boarders that are using appropriate flotation and mindful of the tides and strong currents in the area.”